[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times crossword puzzle. It doesn't actually appear in the L.A. Times newspaper. No, it doesn't completely make sense to me either, but there you are. You can download this puzzle from the cruciverb.com website by clicking on the link over on the sidebar.]
Theme: Literal Letters — Theme answers are familiar phrases that describe one letter included in the phrase.
- 23A: S (HEAD OF STATE).
- 29A: A (END OF AN ERA).
- 34A: C (MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE).
- 58A: P (LEADER OF THE PACK).
- 66A: V (CENTER OF GRAVITY).
- 85A: E (FOREGONE CONCLUSION).
- 94A: F (FALSE START).
- 104A: D (GRAND FINALE).
Crosswordese 101: The OTOE are a Native American people closely related to the Iowa and Missouri. I have to tell you, I find Native American history completely fascinating. So much so that while looking up information for you on the OTOE, I've spent like half an hour and meandered my way through many different tribes and chiefs. Really interesting stuff! Way too complicated to summarize here! So I'll just tell you what you need to know about the OTOE for puzzles. The tribe is described in crossword clues as Siouan, Midwest, and Plains. They can be described as an Oklahoma tribe, a Nebraska tribe, or a tribe that settled on the Platte River. They're also related to the Pawnee and the Winnebago. Their language is called Chiwere. Probably the trickiest part about OTOE is that it can also be spelled OTO. So whether the answer is three letters or four, you might be looking at this same tribe. Oh, and as we see today, a Nebraska county has been named for them — 65A: Nebraska City's county.
Sunday puzzles are huge and there's a lot to talk about, so let's get right to it.
I had quite a few "huh?" moments in this puzzle, but that's really about what I expect from a Sunday. Luckily, the crosses were all good to me, so I figured it all out in the end. No idea who this ZEEMAN character is (31A: Eponymous 1902 physics Nobelist Pieter). No doubt somebody super famous that I should know. When I saw the clue at 47A: More farinaceous I was pretty excited because I thought farinaceous was a pretty cool word and once I knew what it meant, maybe I could use it sometime. I thought it might be something like, I don't know, bootylicious. But no. Unfortunately, I don't have much cause to use the word MEALIER in my everyday life. I don't really believe there's a 15D: Russian auto called a LADA. That just seems pretty farfetched, doesn't it? I'm sure I've seen 99D: Political cartoonist Ted RALL in a puzzle before, but I couldn't bring him to mind. If it's a cartoonist and not Nast, I'm lost. Similarly, if it's a ski resort and it's not Aspen or Vail, you can forget about me knowing it. ALTA? (100D: Utah ski resort) Whatevs. I also didn't know 36D: Broadway actress LEA Salonga, but she won many awards, including a Tony, for her portrayal of one of the main characters in Miss Saigon, which I believe is still running, so she's fair game.
- 1A: Popular fashion doll series (BRATZ). A friend of mine in Iowa wrote a book about the media's sexualization of young girls that forever changed the way I look at Bratz dolls. The first paragraph of this Salon interview makes the point, if you're interested.
- 20A: "Aunt __ Cope Book" (ERMA'S). Totally forgot about this Erma Bombeck book. I even stuck another M in there to make her Emma before I checked the crosses.
- 25A: Opposite of full (UNFED). Raise your hand if you entered empty.
- 28A: "I'll do whatever you need" ("USE ME"). Also a Bill Withers song that we talked about recently on Rex's blog. I actually heard a cover of this song by Mick Jagger and Lenny Kravitz before I ever heard the original. Both versions rock.
- 41A: Lures, Pied Piper style (TWEEDLES). I don't love this word.
- 48A: Time, metaphorically (SANDS).
- 63A: New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival city (KEENE). Between this puzzle, the New York Times and BEQ, I'm learning a lot about New Hampshire these days.
- 64A: Dubai dignitaries (EMIRS). If you've been paying attention to this blog, you definitely should have gotten this one easily today. We talked about it on July 5, it popped up again on July 7, and lookie here! Here it is again!
- 70A: Terrific service (ACE). Tennis!
- 73A: Work on an antimacassar, perhaps (TAT). Work on a what? Oh, TAT. Must have something to do with lace.
- 74A: Last line of some riddles (WHAT AM I?). Love Love Love this clue and answer.
- 83A: Gross income source? (PORN). I'm not sure I totally understand this clue. The question mark means that we aren't supposed to think of the phrase "gross income" the way we usually think about it (i.e., as opposed to net income). Instead, we're supposed to think of it as income that results from ... something gross? Like icky? Is there another definition of gross I'm not seeing? I'm not saying I'm a Fan of porn or anything (hi, mom!) but gross? That seems a little ... excessive? prudish? I don't know. What do you think?
- 98A: Turkey toucher (IRAQ). Now if the porn involves a turkey toucher, then yes, okay, gross.
- 1D: __ Men: "Who Let the Dogs Out" band (BAHA). They also perform a kick-ass theme song for a show on Playhouse Disney called "My Man Stanley." Can't find a video clip, sorry.
- 5D: Madhouse (ZOO).
- 14D: Willingly (LIEF). Scottish? I think it's Scottish. If I hadn't spent the last several hours in the ER, I would look it up, but now I'm just tired.
- 40D: Hosiery thread (LISLE). Learned it from crosswords.
- 44D: Solution created by dissolving (ELUATE). I'm sure all you scientist types knew this one, but it was a complete mystery to me.
- 45D: "Black Like Me" actor __ Lee Browne (ROSCOE). I recall seeing this movie many years ago and being completely horrified. I believe the movie is based on a book that was an account of a sincere undertaking, but the movie ... I don't really remember much about the movie except that the guy Really Didn't Look Black At All. I think the guy who wrote the book actually did, but they could have used some better qualified make-up artists on the movie. Just sayin'.
- 58D: Actress Téa (LEONI). Not a fan.
- 69D: It can make a racket (CATGUT). More tennis!
- 76D: Where sleeping dogs lie? (FOOTREST). Cute. In this case dogs is the slang word for feet.
- 77D: Young's accounting partner (ERNST). I still remember the firm as Ernst & Whinney, but accounting firms went through a lot of changes in the '80s and '90s. My dad worked many years for KPMG Peat Marwick and at one point told us that they were thinking about merging with Ernst & Young and calling the new firm Pete & Ernie's.
- 79D: Rapa __ (NUI). The Polynesian name for "Easter Island." Crossword gold.
- 81D: Boxer, e.g.: Abbr. (SEN.). Senator Barbara Boxer.
[Just a quick aside here. It was at this point in the write-up that PuzzleDaughter ran into the house screaming and bleeding all over the place. She had fallen while riding her bike and torn her chin up pretty good. PuzzleHusband determined that she would probably need stitches so off we went to the ER. Several hours and six stitches later, I'm back and ready to talk about the rest of this puzzle. She is fine, by the way — pretty proud of herself and looking forward to all the attention she'll get from this. Not sure where she gets that from.]
Everything Else — 6A: Helps (out) (BAILS); 11A: Immunity agent (T-CELL); 16A: Use a wet napkin on, perhaps (DAB); 19A: Part of A/V (AUDIO); 21A: Braga of "Moon Over Parador" (SONIA); 22A: Have a balance (OWE); 26A: Turn abruptly (ZAG); 27A: Mass (ARMY); 32A: Heavy hammer (MAUL); 33A: Third-day creation (EDEN); 42A: Not out of the running (IN IT); 43A: Large sea ducks (EIDERS); 50A: Delta follower (EPSILON); 51A: Boy (LAD); 52A: Empire State, e.g.: Abbr. (BLDG.); 53A: Like LAX (INTL.); 54A: "Characters welcome" network (USA); 55A: Crazed (MANIC); 62A: "The Information" author Martin (AMIS); 69A: Belief system (CREED); 71A: Also-__: losers (RANS); 72A: Permits (LETS); 76A: Senses (FEELS); 78A: Organ parts with cones (RETINAS); 82A: Israeli, e.g. (SEMITE); 84A: Dash indicator (OIL GAUGE); 89A: Three-time Daytona 500 champ Gordon (JEFF); 92A: They may be graphic (ARTS); 93A: Orioles' gp. (A.L. EAST); 97A: Golden, in Guanajuato (DE ORO); 102A: The Wildcats of the Big 12 Conf. (KSU); 103A: Try (TASTE); 106A: Uncle to Jenna and Barbara (JEB); 107A: Energetic risk-taking type, so it's said (ARIES); 108A: Altercation (SET-TO); 109A: Conductor whose name is spelled with two musical syllables (SOLTI); 110A: Ave. relatives (RDS.); 111A: Godiva rival (LINDT); 112A: "__ directed" (USE AS); 113A: Zhou __ (ENLAI); 2D: Sorry type (RUER); 3D: Economist Smith (ADAM); 4D: Spruce (up) (TIDY); 6D: Man of steel? (BESSEMER); 7D: Apollo's sister (ARTEMIS); 8D: "Today __": bar mitzvah boy's announcement (I'M A MAN); 9D: Hidden (LATENT); 10D: Milwaukee-to-Gary dir. (SSE); 11D: Scary waves (TSUNAMIS); 12D: Passage (CONDUIT); 13D: Hug (ENFOLD); 16D: Dropped off (DOZED); 17D: Hip (AWARE); 18D: Got the ball rolling (BEGAN); 24D: Gassed up the Jaguar, say (FUELLED); 29D: Make changes to, as copy (EMEND); 30D: "__ go on?" (NEED I); 31D: Collection of signs (ZODIAC); 34D: "Lou Grant" production co. (MTM); 35D: Amazement (AWE); 37D: Orchestra member whose instrument rests on the floor (CELLIST); 38D: Depend (on) (HINGE); 39D: Low points (DEPTHS); 46D: Twisted and turned (SNAKED); 48D: Bonk or conk, e.g. (SLANG); 49D: Dangerous snake (ADDER); 50D: Diary bit (ENTRY); 52D: Gripes (BEEFS); 53D: "__ all right with you ..." (IF IT'S); 55D: Showy parrots (MACAWS); 56D: Don of "Cocoon" (AMECHE); 57D: When many a "Closed" sign is flipped (NINE A.M.); 59D: Cut loose (REVEL); 60D: Fails to mention (OMITS); 61D: "The quality of mercy is not strain'd" speaker and others (PORTIAS); 63D: "Seinfeld" klutz (KRAMER); 67D: Versifier's Muse (ERATO); 68D: Coeur d'__ (ALENE); 73D: Describes (TELLS OF); 75D: Spats (TIFFS); 78D: Mertz neighbors of '50s TV (RICARDOS); 80D: Word after long (AGO); 83D: Like many family films (PG RATED); 84D: SUNY college town (ONEONTA); 86D: Has leftovers, say (EATS IN); 87D: Military training groups (CADRES); 88D: Soap ester (OLEATE); 89D: '60s White House resident, familiarly (JFK JR.); 90D: Lessened (EASED); 91D: Errors (FLUBS); 95D: "Too many to list" abbr. (ET AL.); 96D: It's a wrap (SARI); 98D: A party to (IN ON); 101D: Cunard flagship for 35 yrs. (QE II); 104D: Atlanta sch. (GSU); 105D: British verb ending (-ISE).